One in six teachers are forced to 'self-censor' over fears of causing religious offence, report finds
by: Hani Kamal El-Din
One in six teachers are self-censoring during lessons for fear of causing religious offence, a new report has found.
Research by the Policy Exchange found that 16 per cent of staff at British schools felt they could not bring up certain topics or show images that may offend students, even in the context of teaching a related subject.
English, art and modern language teachers were more likely (19 per cent) to self-censor than their colleagues, closely followed by history (18 per cent), science (18 per cent), geography (17 per cent) and maths (17 per cent).
Half of educators also said they feared for their personal safety if blasphemy-related protests were to erupt outside their schools.
Almost one in ten (9 per cent) cited protests outside Batley Grammar School in 2021, which saw a teacher forced into hiding after using images of the Prophent Mohammed in a lesson on blasphemy.
Former Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi called on ministers to ensure schools are a ‘secure environment where open, honest and free discussion’ is encouraged.
Writing in the report’s foreword, he said: ‘Freedom of speech is not just a Western value – it is our common birth right as human beings. Our teachers – and their pupils – deserve better than this.’
The report called for greater guidance on avoiding causing offence, with four in ten teachers indicating their schools did not have guidelines.